The Parks Department is a dumbbell for turning a blind eye to mice, dangerous play areas, unpaid bills, and other sanitary and financial infractions at a Canarsie fitness center it was supposed to have cleared up years ago, blasted the city’s money watchdog.
Last month, Comptroller John Liu found that the Parks Department hadn’t flexed enough muscle over Fitmar Management to remedy a number of sanitary and financial infractions at the Paerdegat Basin Athletic Club, despite a similar review in regarding almost identical issues.
“The Parks Department can, and should, do more to monitor the operations of its concessionaires, especially when the facility serves our youth,” Comptroller Liu said.
“These problems should have been corrected a long time ago.”
Liu’s office also claimed that Fitmar under-reported its receipts for last year by more than $123,000, and failed to estimate the loss of revenue from employee theft, as recommended in its previous review.
The concessionaire now owes the city $177,736 in unpaid license fees and late charges, according to the new audit.
Fitmar, which inked a 20-year deal with Parks in 2004 to run and maintain the athletic facility in “first class condition,” also failed to fess up about income earned from special events, the report said.
Fitmar says there were no special revels held at the club, but Liu’s office found that it hosted three dance parties between July and September in 2011.
Back in 2009, auditors found mushrooms sprouting from under the club’s indoor track, and last summer, health inspectors found evidence of mice, in addition to exposed metal edges in a children’s play area, torn gymnastic mats, and filthy carpeting.
Fitmar did not return calls for comment. The Parks Department disputes the Comptroller’s audit.
“We completely disagree with the comptroller’s characterization of Parks’ oversight of this concession,” the agency stated in a release, adding that it would comply with Liu’s recommendations to ask Fitmar to pay up and then ship out.
“We are requiring that Fitmar pay the outstanding license fees,” it stated. “Parks is also considering the solicitation of new vendors.”
Reach reporter Colin MIxson at email@example.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.